Fire prevention isn’t something many people think about on a daily basis. However it’s a major cause of loss of life and property. This is especially true for farmers whose livelihood depends on their operations. For farmers barn fire safety should not be an afterthought.
When farming is your livelihood you can’t risk any kind of loss. A barn fire can be a nightmare for farmers. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating equipment is the leading cause of barn fires. Even during winter, improper fire prevention and maintenance can lead to disaster.
At AKE Safety Equipment, we want to help farmers take preemptive measures to help prevent barn fires. Knowing these tips will help farmers and non-farmers alike keep their barn from burning down.
Preventing a Barn Fire:
- Follow your local building code and get proper insurance.
- Keep all ignition sources away from combustible material in and around your farm buildings.
- Install approved fire doors.
- Build a fire wall between hay/bedding storage and the actual stabling area.
- Use materials that are flame retardant or fire resistant.
- Use fire retardant latex paint.
- Don’t smoke in the barn.
- Regularly check barn electrical wiring and fuse boxes for wear and damage.
- Store hay in a separate location away from the barn. Wet hay especially as it can spontaneously combust.
- Portable heaters for the home are not meant to go in a barn. Do not put home heaters in your barn. Only use heaters meant to be used in barns or industrial heaters.
- Clean industrial heaters regularly of dust, dirt, and debris. MAKE SURE they are turned off AND cooled down before you do. Wipe them down with microfiber or damp cloth and blow out any dust away from the heating mechanism.
- Keep the barn clean of spider webs and unnecessary debris.
Being Fire Ready:
- Maintain smoke and CO detectors. Make sure you check them at least once a month and replace batteries as needed.
- Keep fire extinguishers at all barn entrances or every 75 ft. They should be stored or mounted in an easy to reach place.
- Dry chemical fire extinguishers require additional maintenance to ensure effectiveness. Dry chemical fire extinguishers can solidify if they are not shaken monthly. Additionally, they need to be professionally serviced annually to ensure pressure is maintained and they are still in working order. STOP-FYRE is the only multi-shot fire extinguisher that does not require monthly or yearly service.
- Consider installing a sprinkler system in your barn.
- Keep above ground fuel storage tanks at least 40 feet from buildings.
- Create a fire escape plan for you and your animals. Be sure to go over and practice the plan with anyone else who works in the barn area and the animals. Make sure you familiarize your animals with evacuation procedure to avoid unnecessary stress and panic.
Responding to a barn fire:
It only takes seconds for a fire to spread and entire barns can be engulfed in flames in minutes. Follow these steps in case of a fire:
- Call 9-1-1 or your local fire department and tell them the exact location of the fire.
- If the barn in engulfed in flames do not attempt to go inside. Your life is worth more than any barn.
- If it is safe to enter the barn, evacuate livestock one at a time and lead them to another secure location. Animals will often panic and could run back into the barn.
- Make sure the fire department has complete access to the blaze. Do not let vehicles, livestock, or people block the driveway or access to buildings.
- Alert firefighters to potential hazards, including pesticide and chemical storage areas, and fuel tanks.
- After a fire, have a qualified veterinarian check all the animals for injuries from fire or smoke.
This winter, and all year round, we want to make sure you stay pro-active to avoid having a fire. This year we’ve already seen multiple barn fires, and we want you to know how to protect your property and livelihood.
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